Blended Learning Case Studies: The Case of the Missed Lecture

Last week, eLIS instructional designers, John McCormick and Jaclyn Travis, presented a workshop for faculty on strategies for creating blended learning activities. Faculty worked through a problem cases together to come up with solutions for common instructional challenges. Below is the case of the missed lecture and a few potential solutions to the problem. Over the next couple of weeks we will review the cases and present potential solutions including strategies for preparing for snow days.

The Case:
Professor Sara Brown teaches an introductory level sociology course to undergraduate students. The course meets once per week for roughly 3 hours, and class time combines a mix of lectures, full-class discussion and group activities. In the third week of the course, Sara’s class is cancelled due to inclement weather.

Fortunately, there is no substantial group activity planned for week three, and Sara already has her students using BlackBoard for online discussion, so she feels they can easily make up missed class discussion time on the course site. However, in the lecture portion of week three, Sara planned to introduce fundamental, but rather complex, sociology concepts, and she strongly believes the students’ comprehension of course content will suffer if this lecture gets skipped.

How can Sara use the course site (and other online resources or tools if applicable) to deliver the lecture content to students? Also, how can he use the following week’s meeting to ensure this online piece is integrated with the rest of the course? Keep in mind that this lecture was supposed to contain complex content that some students may not be prepared to digest on their own.

The Problem:
Students have missed one week which includes lecture and full-class discussion. It is critically important that students gain an understanding of the lecture material, which includes complex sociology concepts.

It is important that the solution to this challenge include a way to check comprehension of the lecture, which the instructor has stated is very important to the course. It’s difficult to tell if and how the discussion activity was intended to integrate with the lecture for the week.

The delivery of the lecture can be delivered in a similar way in the online environment. For example, she could use VoiceThread, which allows voice-over recording of slides. This is recommended over video recording of the instructor because of the difficulty in obtaining high-quality performances of a “talking-head” videos and because VoiceThread is based on slides that the instructor may already have created.

Checking lecture comprehension: There are several options available. Students could be required or allowed to ask questions based on the lecture, or in other ways respond to the content. This could happen online and/or in the next face-to-face meeting. A useful option may be to ask students to post responses or questions to the lecture, either within VoiceThread or within a dedicated discussion board or blog. Decisions on which tool to use for this depend on the number of students, the volume of the contributions, and the instructors’ comfort with the various tools. The responses and questions should give the instructor an initial idea of learners’ level of comprehension. The instructor could then plan the face-to-face follow-up with this knowledge. Depending upon the nature of the content and the instructor’s teaching style, she could then have students discuss the most challenging or misunderstood concepts and ideas in small groups or as a class, or she could ask them to write something brief that might serve as a comprehension check.

Discussion: The discussion could take place entirely online or could be blended across the two environments. As with all online discussions, the discussion prompt and guidelines will have to be outlined to help the discussion flow well without the constant presence of the instructor. One option is to create small online groups and have them post a summary to a separate discussion thread. The instructor can again use this information to plan a potential follow-up activity for the next classroom meeting. The face-to-face meeting could take the discussion deeper and the instructor can highlight or pull pieces of the online discussion as a catalyst for further in-class work.

Note: Giving credit for or grading required online portions of the work is good practice when blended learning. It shows that the instructor values time spent in the online environment.

Pump Up Your Pedagogy

Next week is Pump Up Your Pedagogy week. Join us for three days of events. Learn more about:

  • preparing for missed classes due to snow or other emergencies
  • how to engage students with social media
  • creating and managing online discussions
  • collaborating online using OneDrive and Skype for Business
  • creating and using video with Kaltura
  • using VoiceThread for peer review
  • finding grant resources
  • the library’s streaming video databases
  • the mobile constructivist classroom
  • and much much more….

Faculty Development Day on January 21st will focus on inclusivity and how to create a safe and inclusive classroom environment.

Download the schedule and make your plans. We’ll see you there.


Pump Up Your Pedagogy Week

Kick off the spring semester with three days of training and faculty development workshops sponsored by the Center for Teaching, Learning and Scholarship, eLearning and Instructional Support, Information Technology, Lesley Libraries, Office of Grants and Research, Office of the Provost and The Creativity Commons.


PUMP UP YOUR PEDAGOGY – January 19, 2016

  • “Snow Day Toolkit”: Designing a Blended Experience
  • Powerful & Pertinent Online Discussions
  • Collaborating in the Cloud (OneDrive/ 365)
  • Skype for Business vs Blackboard Collaborate for real-time connection

PUMP UP YOUR PEDAGOGY—January 20, 2016

  • Kaltura Bootcamp: Video Sharing in Your Classroom
  • Peer Review in Voicethread Webinar (VoiceThread trainer)
  • Bring Your Own Lunch and Strategies for Finding Grant Resources — Creativity Commons
  • Popcorn & A Movie: Library Video Databases
  • The Mobile Constructivist Classroom (Ian Camera, Apple Rep.)
  • Appy Hour: Wine, cheese, & mobile applications

If it is happening to you, it is happening to me; it is all about inclusivity.
A day of workshops including but not limited to the following:

  • Infusing inclusion and diversity into course syllabi
  • A case based workshop with Counseling and Disability Services focused on classrooms issues related to disability and mental health
  • Humanizing the online learning environment, related to difficult discussions based on race, gender and sexuality

Detailed daily schedules will be coming soon.


The First Week of Your Online Class

If you’re new to teaching online, the first week can be a little overwhelming. It can also be hard to tell if your students are doing anything until they start posting. Below are a few tips to help you get started. You may also want to refer to our Getting Ready for a New Semester post.

  1. Gauging Student Engagement: Use the Performance Dashboard to check on student access to the course. If a student has not accessed the course in the first week, contact them immediately (by phone if necessary). It is possible that students are not using Lesley email or have neglected to link their private email to their Lesley account.
  2. Managing Discussions: Familiarize yourself with an efficient workflow for monitoring, responding to, and assessing discussions or other group activities. A common work-flow for discussion management is:
    1. Check in briefly each day to monitor activity. If students are not on-task, use the Announcements tool to guide them back on track. If private communications are necessary, use course email.
    2. Consider your role in discussions. Keep in mind that too many posts by the instructor could discourage student interaction. On the other hand, do let students know that you are monitoring the discussion, even if your presence via posting isn’t necessary.
    3. When reviewing discussions in detail, use the “Collect” tool to view all the text at one time. You also have the option to print the discussion text.
    4. Use a printout of the students’ names, along with the text of the discussion board (electronic or paper printout), to assess the quality of interaction and postings.

For additional assistance and tutorials please visit our website or contact